The New Face of War: How War Will be Fought in the 21st Century

The New Face of War: How War Will be Fought in the 21st Century – Book Review

Miriam Michael


Personal and professional growth is essential to human development; applying that development to a continual process of learning and teaching for the purpose of national security is what distinguishes military officers from their civilian counterparts. And that’s exactly what makes Reserve officers unique: We have our feet in both worlds, our hands in both systems, our hearts in both cultures and our minds in both traditions. With the understanding of military traditions comes the responsibility to think in new ways, quickly shift individual and group belief structures and lead warriors into the unknown: the chaos of war. How better to prepare for this responsibility than through the stories of a talented writer? In this case, Bruce Berkowitz in his latest work, The New Face of War: How War Will Be Fought in the 21st Century.

In his book, he masterfully defines the concept of Information Warfare by telling stories woven through history with intriguing connections to people, places and performances, creating in the mind of the reader an interconnected web of rationale for the lineage of war, war as we have known it and war in the profound ways in which it is changing. He shares the story of Tom Rona who coined the term “information war.” From Rona’s birth in Hungary to his engineering studies in Paris, from his marriage and eventual contributions as a Boeing scientist to his wife’s entrepreneurial computer-sharing business that attracted the young minds of Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Berkowitz connects the dots in Rona’s thinking. Witnessing the civilian computer “hacking” of Gates and Allen, Rona realized the implications these actions had on similar military assets and the influential effects they had on the way we wage war.

Berkowitz describes the genius of Duane Andrews, Ronald Knecht and Paul Strassman who lead the initiative to bring information warfare out of its compartmentalized world “secrecy” and into the department’s thinking. Their efforts produced the Department of Defense Directive TS3600.1 Information Warfare, initially classified Top Secret in 1993, later downgraded to “Secret” in 1996, and finally published in an unclassified version in 2002.

In the chapter titled “The Pentagon Labyrinth,” Berkowitz introduces the reader to the special skills it takes to wind through the high-level political wickets of the services and DoD structure to make things happen. However, he believes “people really can make big changes. You just need to be really smart, aggressive and cagey and willing to push an idea without pushing so hard that the system spits you out.” His book continually attests to this ideal as he tells the tales of all the people who have gone before us to bring their ideas, concepts and beliefs into reality. He puts cyberwar, terrorism and the application of new technologies in context, while opening the reader’s mind to the complexities of the principles of war and their application in this new age. He positions the people he writes about as critical nodes in an intricate system of how the new face of war is being painted on the landscape of our existence, leaving the reader in a network-centric frame of mind.

The New Face of War is an important work that warrants our attention because its contents frame the way we will wage war in the 21st century. Buy it, read it and add it to your library of professional development. Use its genius to feed your own “people really can make big changes.”

COPYRIGHT 2003 Reserve Officers Association of the United States

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group